Paraguayan news agencies have reported that thieves have stealthily stolen a large number of rifles from a National Police armoury, surreptitiously replacing them with replicas.
42 FAL rifles were stolen from the headquarters of the Department of Armaments and Munitions of the National Police, in the city of Capiatá in south western Paraguay. The head of the Department of Armaments and Ammunition, chief inspector Benjamin Segovia, announced the theft of the rifles on the 24th August.
The discovery that the rifles had been stolen from the central National Police armoury was made following an inspection. Officers making an audit found that more than forty rifles had been taken and replaced with wooden and plastic replicas, likely airsoft guns, to disguise their absence. As a result it is uncertain how long the guns have been missing from the armoury. From the photos posted at least some of the replicas appear to be somewhat convincing at a cursory glance.
The rifles were put in storage when new weapons were due to be issued to members of the Paraguayan police force. When FALs with police serial numbers began to appear on the black market the Paraguayan military ordered an investigation and an inventory check which discovered that a substantial number had been taken.
Enrique Caballero, head of the National Directorate of War Material, said they now plan to update their inventory software and protocols telling Reuters that “we want to provide traceability. The illicit market is our concern, and we must increase efforts at stopping that.”
It is believed that the stolen rifles have likely ended up in Argentina, to the south of Paraguay or Brazil, to the north. The BBC reports that a FAL is worth up to $10,000 on the black market in the region. No arrests have been made in connection with the theft yet but the officer in charge of the armoury has been removed from his post.